Ozone Action Days still possible

While summer is winding down, predicted weather conditions may bring several additional Ozone Action Days before it officially ends.

Summer sunshine and warm temperatures are great for enjoying outdoor activities. But while everyone loves the hot, sunny summer days, especially with the anticipation of Michigan winters, it can also mean an increase in the formation of ozone. 

Ozone is a gas formed through the chemical reaction between oxides of Nitrogen and volatile organic compounds in the presence of sunlight. Ground level ozone, also known as smog, develops when weather conditions are just right: high temperatures with high humidity, light winds and little chance of rain.

What is an Ozone Action Day? The Department of Environmental Quality monitors daily conditions. If conditions indicate that the temperature and pollution are high enough that it could create an elevated amount of ground-level ozone, an Ozone Action Day is declared. For people who work or exercise strenuously outdoors, or have respiratory conditions, ozone can be a threat to their health, as well as an environmental concern.

In 2016, there have already been seven Ozone Action Days in Detroit and Grand Rapids with several more 90 degree days predicted. In comparison, the average number of Ozone Action Days declared annually from 2004 through 2013 was 5.5 in Detroit and 7.1 in Grand Rapids. 

What can be done to reduce the formation of ozone?
  • Be aware of Ozone Actions Days. These are days when high temperatures and air pollution combine to form high levels of ground level ozone.
  • Limit outdoor activities on Ozone Action Days.
  • Conserve energy. This reduces emissions from electric facilities.
  • Limit motor vehicle travel by putting trips off or combining several trips and planning the most efficient route. Use the newest vehicle with the best emission controls to reduce pollution. Carpooling, using public transportation, biking or walking may be a possible alternative.
  • Avoid filling up motor vehicles. If you must get gas, do it in early morning or evening when temperatures are lower.
  • Avoid vehicle idling. Idling for more than ten seconds wastes gas and adds harmful emissions to the air.
  • Avoid using the drive-through at restaurants, banks and stores. Park and go inside to save gas and reduce emissions.
  • Put off mowing grass or using other gas powered lawn equipment to reduce emissions.
  • Use household and garden chemicals sparingly. 

These suggestions are good practices for every day, not just on Ozone Action Days.

For more information about air quality and ozone, or to join the Michigan EnviroFlash Program, visit the Department of Environmental Quality website.

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